Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Walking Off A Short Plank With A Long Drop

Way back in yesteryear when this Primary started; the States of Florida and Michigan decided to move their primaries ahead of the DNC schedule, they were warned not to, and persisted. The warning involved a punishment from the DNC under whose rules the Democratic Primary is conducted. That punishment consisted of the primary punishment rule of 50% stripping of delegates and for egregious conduct the additional penalty of 100% stripping was imposed. The candidates all signed agreements with the DNC to not campaign and recognizing that the delegates would not be seated, the elections were not valid. The voters in the states were also informed in the clearest terms what their legislatures and governors and State Parties had done to them, they got to have no Democratic Presidential Primary on that date. So, before a single vote was cast, everybody knew exactly what was going on.

Today AP has a story containing a quote from Senator Clinton threatening to take the issue of Florida and Michigan to the Convention floor if it is not addressed satisfactorily to her at the 5/31 Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting.
Asked whether she would support the states if they appeal an unfavorable rules committee decision to the convention floor, the former first lady replied:

"Yes I will. I will, because I feel very strongly about this."

"I will consult with Floridians and the voters in Michigan because it's really their voices that are being ignored and their votes that are being discounted, and I'll support whatever the elected officials and the voters in those two states want to do."

From the time of the vote in Florida Hillary Clinton began casting herself as the saviour disenfranchised voters, despite signing an agreement stripping them of delegates and acknowledging publicly that the votes didn't count prior to their casting. What changed was that the election was not turning into the expected coronation and then by February 5th had turned seriously against her. She has been beating the drum of Florida and Michigan from the time it looked as though their help was important and beating that drum to the detriment of the DNC.

She effectively stopped any chance either state had of fixing the mess, that fix would have required caucuses. Neither state could afford or were willing to afford another general primary vote and no one else could. The State Parties could have afforded, barely, to hold caucuses but were dissuaded by the hope Hillary held out that their illegitimate primaries would be recognized. Through implication she has demonized the DNC and through her action has driven a hate campaign against them within those states and her supporters. She has convinced her supporters that an unfair advantage has been taken of her by Obama in regard to these states. She and her supporters accuse Senator Obama of cheating her by following the rules they all agreed to. Those supporters are being hardened into a position of either not supporting her opponent in the general or voting for the Republican.

This is a dangerous game to play, the DNC is the official body of the Democratic Party which sets the rules and keeps things going during the off years. The DNC is not the villain in this mess, the legislatures, governors, and state parties are the culprits. Charlie Christ is a lying Republican suntanned snake when he proposes he stands for the interests of all Floridians in this matter, sure as long as they are Republicans he does. Hillary Clinton plays the cat's paw for the Republicans in this and thrashes her own Party in the process (well DNC is no longer the Terry McAuliff big money playground so maybe it isn't her party). There is already damage being done to the DNC by her machinations and she is making noises about making it worse. That existing damage cannot be making the DNC happy and making enemies in politics is a poor practice.

Hillary may think she is putting the DNC on notice that it is her way or the highway by talking about taking the matter to the convention floor but what she is doing is making clear how she plays politics. The DNC and the automatic (super) delegates have it within their reach to knock her silly head off. No super delegate is bound by an endorsement and DNC can ignore her bluff and totally strip the states, a combination of those being flung at her would put her in the position of massive retaliation. If she plays this too far and does lasting damage to DNC and the Democratic nominee she will be finished in Democratic politics. She has taken this to the absolute edge already.

The argument of "I broke this, that Obama can't win, you have to nominate me" won't work, it is done and over unless Obama does something to himself. If Obama loses the General and it even looks like Hillary was responsible there will be a horrific backlash when her Senate seat comes up and the 2012 Presidential Primary would mean a crushing of historic elements. She will spend the next 4 years in the Senate as a pariah to many Democrats and many of her colleagues won't have short memories. "I told you so," won't work, self-fulfilling prophesies are really suspect especially when important voices aren't in the least fooled and John McCain is vetoing bills.

I have made the point over the last year and some that Hillary's difficulties arise from her attachment to short term gain and neglect of long term thinking. The scandals the Republicans tried to gin up against her in the 90s had their roots in that behavior, the Health Care debacle was a victim of it, her vote for AUMF was a symptom, the flag burning vote, and on and on. Her campaign was run with that thinking, have fun spending money, do shock and awe and Feb 5 finishes the deal. What ever damage she is doing to her party, her supporters vision of the process, and the nominee is farther away than her immediate concern of getting delegates she did not earn. Nobody earned delegates in FL/MI, any delegates awarded are an artificial sop to the states and Hillary and there is no way that they'll do her any good, her own actions have guaranteed that - the DNC is not going to reward her behavior.
Floridians "learned the hard way what happens when your votes aren't counted and the candidate with fewer votes is declared the winner," she told supporters. "The lesson of 2000 here in Florida is crystal clear: If any votes aren't counted, the will of the people isn't realized and our democracy is diminished."

"The people who voted did nothing wrong and it would be wrong to punish you," she added.
This is an absolutely poisonous comparison to make to the DNC. The question that will be resolved is whether Hillary Clinton has done anything wrong and how her actions are addressed. I have gone through the stages of being unenthusiastic about her, through opposing her, to now reaching the point of active hostility. I might find it an interesting project to get past this election and begin a process of helping to destroy her. I don't believe I'd find myself short of allies - and not the Republican type, either. Too bad, Sen Kennedy's health may leave large shoes to fill... I've said it before, making enemies in politics where you don't need to is stupid behavior - ask George II.

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